Big news includes Netflix Inc (NASDAQ: NFLX) beating earnings estimates but having a weaker-than-expected forecast, Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) cutting prices the sixth time this year, Meta Platforms Inc (NASDAQ: META) and Walt Disney Co (NYSE: DIS) commencing layoffs, and mortgage rates edging higher to ~6.4%.
Equity markets are down, and equity implied volatility (IVOL) measures, including the Cboe Volatility Index or VIX, are climbing. Notwithstanding, the trend lower in IVOL is intact, and that’s good for traders biased short volatility.
“With all the focus [on S&P 500 (INDEX: SPX)] 0 DTE lately, I look at how expensive these have been since 2022,” IPS Strategic Capital’s Pat Hennessy says, referencing a backtest he conducted selling a 1 DTE straddle and holding till maturity.
“Performance since the November CPI has been stellar, with a 63% win rate and an average gain of $20.00.”
Volatility trader Darrin John agrees, noting volatility remains expensive, a detriment to those who may be biased long volatility.
“The VRP is so wide across all of the tenors I track,” John elaborates. “It’s going to be hard for gamma buyers to cover daily theta bills.”
Clouds are appearing on the horizon, however, and the trend higher (lower) in stocks (volatility) may not last. Bloomberg forecasts the largest fall in SPX earnings since the start of 2020. Notwithstanding, strength can continue for longer …
… even with the SPX breadth reading poor. The SPX has rallied with multiples rising; strength came with positive earnings surprises, bond demand, and other things.
Hence, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, the low-cost call structures we’ve talked about in the past remain attractive.
If markets move higher, you can monetize and roll profits into put spreads (i.e., buy put and sell another at a lower strike). This may work well if JPMorgan Chase & Co’s (NYSE: JPM) call that “even a mild recession would warrant retesting the previous lows” is realized.
Such structures work well as “a big pop in the market can result in a decent drop in the VIX…and vice versa, a market sell-off will result in a greater increase in the VIX now than it did in 2022,” says Alpha Exchange.
Alternatively, lean neutral and buy into cash or bonds yielding 4-5%. Some long box spreads yield 5.4% as of yesterday’s close.
In other news, Physik Invest’s first in-depth note is nearing completion and will be available for public viewing in short order. Take care and watch your risk!
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A shorter letter today, so there may be some holes we patch later. Take care!
The Federal Reserve (Fed) bumped its target rate up 25 basis points to 4.75-5.00% and opened the door to more hikes, barring market-induced financial tightening, as this letter put forward yesterday morning.
“The events in the banking system over the past two weeks are likely to result in tighter credit conditions for households and businesses, which would, in turn, affect economic outcomes,” Fed chair Jerome Powell commented, adding that credit tightening significantly means monetary policy “may have less work to do.”
Further, before the recent collapses of a few financial institutions, including SVB Financial Group, the market was pricing a 50 basis point hike.
The below CME Group Inc’s (NASDAQ: CME) FedWatch Tool shows the market’s expectations on March 8. Note the 5.50-5.75% terminal (peak) rate.
“Absent SVB, the Fed would have likely raised 50 basis points,” TS Lombard’s Steve Blitz said. “SVB did happen, however, and so this FOMC, ever anxious about facing a recession (rising unemployment), is more than happy to let ‘tighter credit conditions for households and businesses … weigh on economic activity, hiring, and inflation.’ As for financial instability, they believe they have the tools to keep a few poorly managed banks from imploding the whole sector.”
The updated summary of economic projections (SEP) or dot plot shows the FOMC expecting rates to end 2023 above 5.00%.
This is far higher than what the markets are pricing. Powell’s go-to measure for spotting economic troubles suggests steep cuts are also coming sooner than later.
Anyways, given that what was expected happened, markets responded positively. If interested in why that is the case following important events as of late, see the Daily Brief for 2/1 and 2/2.
It was Treasury secretary Janet Yellen who took the market lower. Yellen said she has “not considered or discussed anything having to do with blanket insurance of guarantees of deposits,” and markets did not like that.
The likes of Pershing Square’s Bill Ackman responded he “would be surprised if deposit outflows don’t accelerate.” Adding, Federated Hermes’ Steve Chiavarone thought it was “astounding” Yellen and Powell would give contradictory messages.
“Powell essentially said that all deposits are safe; Yellen said, ‘Hold my beer.’ You would have thought that they would have coordinated,” responded Federated Hermes’ Steve Chiavarone.
To keep it brief, we’ll end with references to letters for 3/20 and 3/21, noting that the conditions for weak equity markets are present. The S&P 500 forward earnings are declining, the yield curve is inverted, unemployment is below average, manufacturing PMIs are below 50, and 40% of banks are tightening lending, Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) strategists explain.
As of 8:55 AM ET, Thursday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET) in the S&P 500 will likely open in the middle part of a positively skewed overnight inventory inside the prior day’s range, suggesting a limited potential for immediate directional opportunity.
The S&P 500 pivot for today is $3,994.25.
Key levels to the upside include $4,004.25, $4,017.00, and $4,026.75.
Key levels to the downside include $3,977.00, $3,959.25, and $3,946.75.
Disclaimer: Click here to load the updated key levels via the web-based TradingView platform. New links are produced daily. Quoted levels likely hold, barring an exogenous development.
Volume Areas: Markets will build on areas of high-volume (HVNodes). Should the market trend for some time, this will be identified by a low-volume area (LVNodes). The LVNodes denote directional conviction and ought to offer support on any test.
If participants auction and find acceptance in an area of a prior LVNode, then future discovery ought to be volatile and quick as participants look to the nearest HVNodes for more favorable entry or exit.
POCs: Areas where two-sided trade was most prevalent in a prior day session. Participants will respond to future value tests as they offer favorable entry and exit.
The author, Renato Leonard Capelj, spends the bulk of his time at Physik Invest, an entity through which he invests and publishes free daily analyses to thousands of subscribers. The analyses offer him and his subscribers a way to stay on the right side of the market.
Overnight, equity index futures auctioned off recovery highs, with bonds. Most commodity products held a bid, as did measures of equity index implied volatility (IV).
Ahead is data on Jobless Claims, the Consumer Price Index (8:30 AM ET), the Federal Budget (2:00 PM ET), and Fed-speak (7:00 PM ET).
What To Expect
Fundamental: Participants have readied themselves for data on inflation.
According to Nordea Bank’s (OTC: NRDBY) research, though January inflation will be higher, ultimately leading to volatility in bonds and equities, there will be a moderation in momentum.
The headline figure may print at 7.4% y/y (consensus: 7.2%) while core inflation may print 5.9% y/y (consensus: 5.9%). This is after CPI basket weights were updated and show an increased weight towards the prices that are rising the most (used cars and shelter costs).
“An above-consensus print could imply frontloading of hikes and increased speculation in a 50bp March-hike,” Nordea’s Philip Maldia Madsen and Helene Østergaard explain.
“Frontloading rate hikes support the USD, but substantial gains may require higher terminal rates pricing (more hikes priced, not just faster).”
This is as U.S. labor conditions have tightened markedly, fueling a “sell-off in the short-end of the USD curve as inflation risks remain historically high.”
Taken together, data points to the Federal Reserve staying hawkish and a continued risk in shorter-duration bonds.
Andreas Steno Larsen of Heimstaden, who this newsletter quoted, yesterday, has explained that despite inflation printing higher in Q1, the trends will shift in Q2-Q4, given new CPI weights.
“The changes made by the BLS hence provide a net/net negative impact on inflation down the line (likely during H2-2022 already), but not before another positive tilt to inflation is seen in the very short-term.”
What is the outlook for bonds and tech? Steno Larsen suggests it is benign.
“I don’t really fear the planned QT from the Fed in that regards either,” he elaborates.
“We will not see a strong negative USD liquidity effect from QT initially as the gap between the total amount of printed USD reserves and the current amount of USD reserves available to the banking system will act as a buffer once the Fed starts bringing down the balance sheet size (QT).”
Positioning: The effects of continued volatility compression contended with demand for protection, yesterday.
In the face of a sort-of upward drift, participants legged into negative delta (-delta) trades that offered them positive exposure to the downside.
Below is a chart of SpotGamma’s (beta) Hedging Impact of Real-Time Options indicator. Notice the trend in the blue (put) and orange (call) lines. This trend denotes demand for -delta (call selling and put buying) which translates to pressure from dealers who are selling underlying (adding -delta) against their positive delta (+delta) options exposure.
As stated, the pressure from this divergence was offset by continued compression in volatility; as time and volatility trend to zero, the supportive hedging flows with respect to time (charm) and volatility (vanna), along with “passive buying support,” took from the negative implications of customer demand for protection.
Overall, similar to yesterday, buying proxies still point to modest bullishness.
Technical: As of 6:30 AM ET, Monday’s regular session (9:30 AM – 4:00 PM ET), in the S&P 500, will likely open in the middle part of a negatively skewed overnight inventory, inside of prior-range and -value, suggesting a limited potential for immediate directional opportunity.
In the best case, the S&P 500 trades higher; activity above the $4,573.25 high volume area (HVNode) puts in play the $4,586.00 regular trade high (RTH High). Initiative trade beyond the RTH High could reach as high as the $4,631.75 and $4,647.25 HVNodes, or higher.
In the worst case, the S&P 500 trades lower; activity below the $4,573.25 HVNode puts in play the $4,554.50 RTH Low. Initiative trade beyond the RTH Low could reach as low as the $4,526.25 HVNode and $4,473.00 VPOC, or lower.
Click here to load today’s key levels into the web-based TradingView charting platform. Note that all levels are derived using the 65-minute timeframe. New links are produced, daily.
What People Are Saying
Volume Areas: A structurally sound market will build on areas of high volume (HVNodes). Should the market trend for long periods of time, it will lack sound structure, identified as low volume areas (LVNodes). LVNodes denote directional conviction and ought to offer support on any test.
If participants were to auction and find acceptance into areas of prior low volume (LVNodes), then future discovery ought to be volatile and quick as participants look to HVNodes for favorable entry or exit.
POCs: POCs are valuable as they denote areas where two-sided trade was most prevalent in a prior day session. Participants will respond to future tests of value as they offer favorable entry and exit.
After years of self-education, strategy development, mentorship, and trial-and-error, Renato Leonard Capelj began trading full-time and founded Physik Invest to detail his methods, research, and performance in the markets.
Capelj is also a Benzinga finance and technology reporter interviewing the likes of Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary, JC2 Ventures’ John Chambers, FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, and ARK Invest’s Catherine Wood, as well as a SpotGamma contributor developing insights around impactful options market dynamics.
Physik Invest does not carry the right to provide advice.
In no way should the materials herein be construed as advice. Derivatives carry a substantial risk of loss. All content is for informational purposes only.